Jasmine Maietta is on a mission to remake the sports world. A former basketball player — and branding expert for brands including Peloton, Under Armour and Reebok — Maietta knows sports gear: regulation-orange basketballs, monochrome soccer balls, uninspiring ping pong paddles. With round21, she reimagines all that equipment as blank canvases for exceptional visual talent. The result: a limited-edition mini-backboard redrawn as a galaxy by former tattoo artist Cory Bailey — better known to sneaker cognoscenti as customizer Sierato. A ping pong paddle illustrated with a raised fist and the words “We Will Breathe” by Brazil-born, L.A.-based artist Adhemas Batista. And a basketball created by Maietta herself, in pink, yellow and a multitude of colors representing hope and positivity.
In this episode, we asked Maietta about founding round21, why it took so long for the sports world to embrace visual customization, and which sport she thinks is most ripe for a redesign: “I think all sports equipment could use a visual makeover if it brings to life the identity of the player,” she says. “But there’s something so beautiful about a soccer ball: its dimensionality, the little hexagons around the ball that can act as mini-canvases for a variety of artists.”
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Maietta also shares how round21 produced ping pong paddles with socially conscious messages — like Batista’s design — for the NBA players isolated in the COVID-protective bubble last year. “This was an awesome opportunity,” Maietta says. “The 2020 season wasn’t about wins and losses — it really was about the larger social movement and providing the players a platform to speak their voice. So they commissioned round21 to use the canvas that we had at the time — which was ping pong paddles — as another place to express the message of social justice and mental health.”
Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.
Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.